When you plant a tree, you plant a legacy, and that’s true at Golden Circle Pork, where Rod and Missy Bice maintain their family’s century-long commitment to caring for the land.
“Golden Circle Pork is a name that helps remind us of the importance of keeping all aspects of our farming operation sustainable,” says Missy Bice, who notes that the family’s farm near Woodward, Iowa, has been in the family for more than 100 years. “We want to show people how we care for our animals and environment every day.”
The Bices, who have been honored as 2011 Pork Industry Environmental Stewards, have planted shrubs and evergreens to help control odor near their swine barns and provide year-round visual appeal on their farm, where they raise 6,600 wean-to-finish pigs annually.
Manure from the farm’s three climate-controlled barns helps fertilize the Bice’s 1,400 acres of corn and soybeans. Flow meters on the injectors ensure that the right amount is applied, as determined by the Bice’s nutrient management plan, which has been approved by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Rod, a certified custom manure applicator, injects the manure 8 to 10 inches deep to eliminate run-off potential. Auto-steer technology on his tractor allows even more precise manure application.
“With auto-steer, we don’t have overlaps or gaps in the field, so we know where we are and aren’t applying manure,” said Rod, who adds that the swine nutrients have boosted the farm’s corn yields. “The soil’s organic matter is definitely improved, too, and that’s something that commercial fertilizer won’t give you.”
Connecting with the community
Careful manure management, when combined with the use of grass waterways, filter strips, and terraces in the fields, helps protect water quality in the nearby Des Moines River basin. This also enhances the cycle of sustainability at Golden Circle Pork.
“Our vision was to use the nutrient by-products from our hog operation to produce the corn, to feed the pigs, to feed the people in our community and around the world,” said Missy Bice, who notes that the couple’s children, Jacoby, Savannah, Delaney and Brylee, help out on the farm, which also includes about 200 feeder cattle and a small cow-calf herd.
Connecting with the community to important to the Bices, who note that Woodward’s annual Friends and Neighbors Day event is a favorite way for them to showcase their love of the land.
“Producing pork isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life that’s been handed down to us and is something we want to hand down to the next generation,” Rod said. “We need to do things the right way so we’ll have the opportunity to do that.”
Stewards safeguard the environment
Golden Circle Pork is one of four 2011 Pork Industry Environmental Stewards. Other winners of the award, which is sponsored by the Pork Checkoff and National Hog Farmer magazine, include:
• John M. Langdon Farms, Benson, N.C.
• Wuebker Farms, Versailles, Ohio
• Cleveland Pork, Elysburg, Pa.
The operations were evaluated on their manure management systems, water and soil conservation practices, odor-control strategies, farm aesthetics and neighbor relations, wildlife habitat promotion, innovative ideas used to protect the environment, notes Lynn Harrison, former president of the National Pork Board.
“The 2011 Stewards are real-world examples of how producers demonstrate the We Care principles every day as natural protectors of the environment and as good neighbors in their communities.”
To read more about the Environmental Stewards, go to the 2011 fall issue of Pork Checkoff Report.